Disappointment in last week’s decision to approve 27 wind turbines in southern Prince Edward County ranges far beyond the borders of the municipality,
A trio of conservation groups, including Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, and American Bird Conservancy have joined Mayor Robert Quaiff in lambasting the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) decision to approve the White Pines Prince Edward County Wind Energy Project in an internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA).
“There are so many things wrong about this decision and the only reasonable conclusion is that it is bad for nature” stated Ted Cheskey, senior conservation manager at Nature Canada, in a joint release. “More populations of species at risk will be threatened and more critical habitat will be destroyed. Nature Canada is not opposed to the project as a whole, but several specific turbines should not have been approved. We are also at a loss to understand why the Ministry would approve this project without waiting for the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal in the Ostrander case.”
Michael Hutchins, director of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign, said the development will hurt birds in both Canada and the United States.
“These are not just Ontario’s birds,” he said. “There is growing concern in the United States that the government of Ontario and Canada’s wind industry is failing to address the serious harm that poorly sited wind energy projects such as this one are causing or will cause to our already stressed shared bird and bat populations.”
Josh Wise, Greenway program coordinator for Ontario Nature, said the potential developments along the South Shore of Prince Edward County puts a number of species at risk.
“We are deeply concerned about the potential cumulative impacts these projects will have in these ecologically significant areas,” he said. “The south shore of Prince Edward County is one of the most significant corridors for migratory birds as well as habitat for species at risk like the Blanding’s turtle. We are all for green energy, but not at the expense of nature.”
While wpd Canada received approval for the White Pines site, a neighbouring project – a nine-turbine development by Gilead Power had its approval overturned on appeal by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and is now heading back to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Gilead Power will attempt to make remedy for the protection of the Blandings turtle which inhabit the area.
Quaiff says the support of the groups only supports his reaction to last week’s announcement.
“I think any time you have three entities like Nature Canada, Ontario Nature and the American Bird Conservancy seeing the same deficiencies in a decision that we see, it only help your position,” he said. “I think they would likely agreed that many aspects of the Green Energy Act are flawed and the Liberal government really needs to pull back and have another look at where they are headed with this.”
While no information has come forward regarding potential appeals of the decision, letters of intent must be filed with in 15 days of the July 16 approval date.
Nature Canada is the oldest national nature organization in Canada with 45,000 members and supporters. Nature Canada’s mission is to protect and conserve Canada’s wildlife by working with people and advocating for nature. In partnership with Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada is the Canadian partner of BirdLife International.
Ontario Nature protects Ontario’s wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Established in 1931, it is a charitable, membership-based conservation organization with over 150 member groups and 30,000 individual members and supporters.
Established in 1994, American Bird Conservancy is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. ABC’s work has resulted in the establishment of 65 international bird reserves, with over 990,000 acres protected, and 3.5 million trees and shrubs planted to enhance bird habitat.
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